North America booked his passage to the Dubai World Cup after an impressive front-running tactic to win the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 at Meydan on Super Saturday.
Jockey Richard Mullen had North America settled in front, and when challenged by Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, found another gear to win by more than five lengths over the Dubai World Cup distance of 2,000 metres on dirt.
The Satish Seemar-trained runner has improved with each of his three runs this season after a third-placed finish in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 in January before a second place in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 last month.
Seemar also savoured victory in Saturday’s first raced when Yulong Warrior earned a place in the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night after routing the field in the Listed Al Bastakiya.
“It is indeed one of those days when you have a Group 1 winner and a couple of other good results,” said Seemar, who also had Secret Ambition finish second in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar.
“Reynaldothewizard (winner of Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2013) gave me my first Group 1 and a horse like him bought out of the sales – North America – has now done that for me again.
“He’s now the poster boy for the sales here. It’s a typical success story in racing and as far as me and my team is concerned, it’s very gratifying for all of us to have a horse like him and to see him progress.”
Yulong Warrior and North America will be lining up on Dubai World Cup night on March 31 but Seemar was cautious not to jump into any conclusion.
“We still have some days to go for the Dubai World Cup. So fingers crossed,” he said.
Mullen rode Yulong Warrior to a dominant win, more than than 11 and-half-lengths clear of Nordic Defense under Per-Anders Graberg. Rua Augusta with Harry Bentley atop was third.
“He’s an expensive purchase,” Mullen said of Yulong Warrior. “He ran early in the season and wasn’t ready but in the last couple of weeks he’s really turned a corner. He seems to have benefitted on the long run.
“Drawn in Gate 1 was a huge benefit around here anyway and I always able to be on the comfort zone and where I was. I think he’s a horse that has mentally grown up.
“He was bought specifically for these races. He’s bred for the dirt. He’s got a lovely pedigree and he’s a horse that took time to get used to the sand more than anything else.”
Godolphin rounded off the meeting with three winners with Charlie Appleby saddling a treble with Blair House winning the Group 1 Jebel Hatta under James Doyle, while William Buick rode Jungle Cat and Hawkbill in the Nad Al Sheba Conditions and the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold respectively.
“We knew it was like rolling the dice,” Appleby said on his success with Blair House over another Godolphin runner Benbatl, who came into the race having won on his last two starts.
Buick bagged his second Carnival jockey’s title in three years with 13 winners, six more than Christophe Soumillon, the 2017 winner of the title.